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last minute holidays

(If you are looking for a last minute flight go to our cheap flights page).

It's going to take some time, and you may need to use the phone to book, but the web is a great place to search and find a last minute holiday bargain.

You'll get the best last minute holidays deal if you invest some time to shop around. According to a recent Which! survey what you pay depends on where you buy, as much as who you travel with.

Before you click on the last minute holidays links below take some time to look at the checklist beneath them for things to look out for to ensure that your last minute holiday really is a last minute bargain, not a last minute lemon.

Also don't forget to come back for advice on where to find cheap travel insurance, airport parking and all your travel needs at bargain prices. You can add this page to your favourites by clicking on the link in the 'recommended' box on the right.

So, lets find last minute holidays:

teletextholidays - is a good place to start. Even though you have to phone to book most of the last minute holidays, and the offers are often no more up to date than the TV version, it's quicker than sitting in front of the TV and it gives you a benchmark against which to judge other offers.

Next stop first choice. Much improved since it's launch last June, an excellent site with thousands of last minute holidays for sale.

Thomson - are also worth a look. A quick search engine and some excellent prices on last minute holidays departing within the next 6 weeks.

Thomascook - the third of the big three offline travel agents, like the others they use their buying power to get some good deals and 'exclusives'. A good quick search and, depending on the time of year, some great deals.

expedia is a great next stop. This UK website gets around one million visitors a month, making it one of the UK's biggest online travel and holiday companies. The home page is a bit busy, but the site is easy to use and offers a good choice of last minute holidays.

lastminute.com - sell last minute holidays too and are always worth a try. They have recently improved their last minute holidays section, but are still a bit hit and miss - sometimes you find great late deals, sometimes you waste your time.

Opodo - the web site set up by a number of leading European airlines also offer last minute holidays. A bit up and down, but worth a quick visit

OTC travel specialist OTC - or the Online Travel Company - specialises in last minute travel. Build your own city break or book a last minute holiday.

ebookers has a reasonable last minute holidays section and is well worth a look.

Travelcareonline is owned by the Co-op, the UK's largest independent travel agent. They use this 'muscle' to negotiate 'exclusive deals' which can be good and can be average. As the website is mainly focused on last minute holidays it features an excellent selection, but not always at the best prices.

Tricks of the trade (or how to make sure your last minute holiday deal isn't a last minute lemon)

We all like a bargain, but some last minute holidays are available because no one else wants them. So how do you ensure your last minute deal isn't a last minute lemon?

With flights this is less of a problem because you know the flight time and the airline before you book. But with a last minute holiday, although you will know the flight times and the destination, you may not know where you will be staying. You may be told the 'standard' of accommodation, but not where it will be. Sometimes you'll get a bargain but sometimes you'll get a lemon.

The best advice is to be on your guard. Try to find out where you are going to stay and then do some research (see our about your holiday page). The travel agent usually knows where you will stay when they sell you the holiday; if they don't know, or won't tell you, it's best to assume the worst.

That's not to say that you shouldn't book an unnamed package deal. Last year one of the 1st Holiday Store team bought a week's holiday for four in the Med for less than £400, on the basis that the flights alone would cost more than that. If the accommodation (which wasn't named) was poor, they would be able find alternative accommodation when they arrived and still have got a bargain. In the end they didn't need to, the apartment was fine.

So buy an unnamed deal with your eyes open. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst and have a contingency plan. Make sure you get the standard of accommodation in writing, including what this standard means in terms of the facilities provided. And pray a little!

Also, when you compare prices always look at the bottom line. Travel companies often (usually?) advertise an attractive headline price, but then add on other costs such as 'ticket on departure', in flight meals, transfers, travel insurance (which isn't compulsory, but do you have time to find an alternative? Yes! See our travel insurance page!), etc. etc.

It's easy to get sucked in. Look at the bottom line cost, shop around to get the best late deal.

Finally, make sure you check the terms and conditions before booking.


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